Month: May 2018

The last time I ate a meatball sub. To be filed under: I can’t believe we are still dealing with this shit

Next Friday the people of Ireland are voting whether or not say Yes or No on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution which gives the unborn child equal right to life as the mother (as adopted in 1983). That’s putting it in very simple tones. Abortion has been criminalized in Ireland since 1861 and what the 8th Amendment really does is give the unborn child more rights than the mother. The only way a woman is allowed to have an abortion is if she is going to die from having the child and even that isn’t always taken into consideration.

From The Conversation.com:

Instead of stopping abortion, what the 8th actually prevents is doctors intervening to protect the health of their patients if that would jeopardise foetal life. It prevents elected and accountable politicians from making laws to respond to real-life need. It says that as long as a woman is still alive when her child is born the state has done its duty to her and, more importantly, to her child.

There are so many fantastic articles out there right now about it and here are a few:

This one has a great video explaining the whole thing way better than I can

Here are the 170,216 reasons to Repeal the 8th amendment on Friday, May 25

I’m not Irish and I can’t vote but I’ve been following along very closely because it seems unbelievable to me that this is still a freaking issue.

So here is my story:

Oonagh was a planned c-section because I had already had two c-sections in the last four years and the risks were too great. But I went into labour early and while I was lying on the operating table the Obstetrician called everyone over to see how my uterus was being held together by a thin piece of skin that “looks like stretched Saran Wrap.”

“Another 20 minutes and both mom and baby would have died, good thing we got her on the table.”

It turned a happy moment into something traumatizing.

Then the Obstetrician asked if I was planning on having my tubes tied. Since we had already decided that this would be our last baby I said that I was.

“Good.” She replied. “I’m taking out extra because you can never, ever do this again.”

I was later told that should I get pregnant (the chance was small but still a possibility) I would not be allowed to carry that baby to term.

And you know what, the thought still makes me really sad. Not because I have an overwhelming desire for another baby but because I just love my husband so much and my daughters so much and, lets face it, we are really good at this whole baby making thing. But my option was abort or carry to term and most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Imagine right? Oh wait, I can easily imagine because two years later I was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

You know who else usually shouldn’t have babies? Terminal cancer patients. An attempt to do so would most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Sensing a theme here?

Women in Ireland have been denied abortions even if they are terminally ill. They are denied medical treatment if there is a chance that treatment will harm their baby because doctors hands are tied due to legalities and both doctor and mother can face up to 14 years imprisonment.

 

But here is a different story.

When I was 19 and ridiculously in love with my then-boyfriend we got really drunk one night at a Christmas party after being apart for months. The next morning was a hungover, panicky did we or didn’t we debate (most likely did). We went to a walk-in clinic and got the morning after pill and then went to Subway and got a meatball sub that I ate half of and puked up. I don’t know what the morning after pill is like these days (this was over 20 years ago) but back then it was kind of like taking a whole bunch of birth control at once. The doctor told us that I most likely wasn’t pregnant even if we did because of the time in my cycle but he gave me the choice to do what I felt comfortable with. The pills made me sick and my boyfriend slept in my parents basement that night because he was worried about me but to be honest I have thought more about that disgusting meatball sub over the years than I have about this incident. We dated for six years after that and were always super cautious and never had a scare again. Now we have children with other people and great lives and once in a while we will email each other about kids books (mostly Harry Potter). All because I had a choice.

The woman in both of these stories deserves equal rights to a choice no matter what the reason.

So why is this bothering me so much since I don’t even live in Ireland? Well, what I do live in is a fairly conservative province with a known anti-abortion activist who is the leader of the United Conservative Party and wants to be our next Premier. There are also people who leave anti-abortion propaganda in my mailbox as they troll the neighbourhood. The mailbox that my children excitedly check daily. My front lawn looks like I run a daycare so if these people really cared about children they would not leave their hate literature in the mailbox of a home that is over run with children.

Also, these pamphleteers are usually older women – why? Why you gotta love God more than your own sex ladies? But maybe that is a different conversation.

If you believe that women should have autonomy over their bodies then any reason for an abortion does not matter and is none of your business. It certainly isn’t my business and it really really isn’t the Church’s or politicians business. And let’s be honest, it really isn’t men’s business either. At what point in history has a group of women ever sat around making decisions about men’s reproductive rights?

So I care what is happening in Ireland because I care about what is happening to women all over the world. A Yes vote doesn’t just effect women in Ireland – it effects women every where because every time a woman is given more power over her own body the scales balance out just a little more for all women.

 

 

Reading With My Daughters: Sophie’s Masterpiece

 

Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Jane Dyer.

I bought this book years ago as a discard from our local public library. Moira was most likely a baby at the time I bought it but I will confess to buying picture books before I even considered having children so I may have had it for even longer than I have had children. Oonagh pulled it out again the other day and, even though I have probably read this book hundreds of times, it still makes me weepy at the end.

 

The story is about a talented spider who just wants to spin beautiful things but because she is a spider her work isn’t always appreciated. Sophie lives in a boarding house and one day discovers a young woman who is going to have a baby (alone!). After being kicked from one room to another Sophie is too old and tired to move but the young woman doesn’t freak out and leaves Sophie alone (which is what we do in our house when we see spiders for the eight months of winter we live through each year – the other four months we take them outside). The young woman is too poor to be able to afford a blanket and so Sophie weaves one for her.

 

Sometimes the girls laugh at me when I get weepy because Sophie gives her life for that blanket, and sometimes they are getting teary right beside me. It’s a beautiful story and the soft illustrations by Jane Dyer (who illustrated that staple of children’s home libraries: Time For Bed) are pretty much perfect. Even Moira still enjoys it when I read this book aloud and I’ve been reading this book aloud now for 10 years – and sometimes I find her reading it to herself. That’s the sign of a great book.

(Also I’m so grateful that the girls still want me to read to them I thought I would do a whole series on the books we read.)

Mothers

I thought about writing a Mother’s Day post this year and all the things I could say and then I went on the internet and kept getting told that not everyone is happy about Mother’s Day and to please think of all the women who would like to be mothers but can’t be, or the women who have lost their mothers, or the women who have chosen not to be mothers and to not make them feel bad about their choices. And it isn’t like I don’t think about about those women all the time (I can’t even watch movies that involve women who are unable to have children because my heart cracks into pieces and I ugly cry) and am so grateful that I do get to be a mother and the whole thing was overwhelming and my family was grumpy and I felt like I was supposed to be happy about being a mother but not too happy so I just didn’t write about it.

But I did call my mom whom I love so much and then I spent time thinking about how grateful I am to still be here for another Mother’s Day and wondered how many more I will get. So even though my day consisted of three loads of laundry and I made my own breakfast and cooked dinner (because I wanted to and it was awesome), it was pretty much just another day but with homemade presents from school that I will treasure forever and a weird sense of not knowing how I am supposed to feel about everything. Like, we are constantly being told we are supposed to celebrate ourselves these days but also not celebrate the things that make us different if the things that make us different are going to offend other people and the internet is the worst when you are a non-confrontational peacemaker with a guilt complex for being white, well off, and middle class.

Last night my friend Jocelyn took me to see David Sedaris and I kept thinking about how much I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my mom this joke or tell my mom that joke – and especially tell my mom the fisting joke or the one about having sex with Jesus because I know she will appreciate it and how awesome is it that that is the kind of mom I have?

Whenever I think about how my life is turning out I keep telling myself that I least I have my daughters for how ever long I get to be with them. I try not to think about what Mother’s Day will be like for them in the future. I hope it isn’t a day they hate or avoid. Maybe they will get together and get drunk and listen to Hamilton really loud and remember their mom who loved them sooooooo much and then Fionnuala will tell totally inappropriate jokes about fisting and Moira will act horrified but still be laughing so hard her drink will come out her nose and they will all agree that “mom would have loved that one.”

 

The chaos of a few short years ago.

 

Housekeeping: Some people have asked me to set up an email subscription for this site to be notified when new posts are up. Well, I finally did it! So if you look to the right —-> you will see a Subscribe button. I will probably send out updates in a newsletter format once every couple weeks unless my writing goes back to being really sporadic then I will send them out whenever a new post appears. I’ll include things in my newsletters too that won’t be on the blog – like links to recent articles I am loving, recipes (since I don’t really want them on the blog), dirty jokes, or discounts and special deals on… NOTHING (ha!) because I have nothing to sell. Except myself I guess.

What else is there?

Currently we are reading Catch-22 for book club. I think our book club is currently being called People Who Actually Read the Book club but I haven’t been following along with the discussion. In my head I call it Mensa Book Club Drop Outs & Their Spouses (I’m the spouse, not the Mensa person in case there was any doubt) but either way I’m not sure I’m going to be finishing Catch-22 this time around which I feel rather bad about since it was my pick.

 

I’ve slowed down my reading a whole lot lately. I came across this bit this morning and didn’t want to continue until I had ruminated on it for a while. In this chapter Dunbar is talking about how much he loves skeet shooting because it is so boring and makes time pass slowly – to him the slower time passes the longer your life. Dunbar and Clevinger bicker about it for a while (there is a lot of bickering in this book) and then Clevinger concedes:

“Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?”

And as you can see from the photo above Dunbar wants one – as do most of the men in this story because it is set during WWII and all they want is to get out of the war and go home. I think most people facing death would trade it for a long life no matter how boring.

Which comes to the thought that has been circulating in my mind lately: what the hell am I doing with my life these days?

When I was first diagnosed I didn’t want anything to do with thinking about death (or reading about death) but now it seems like it is constantly on my mind (and a lot of my reading is focused on people talking about death). Not in the sense that I am thinking about my death all the time but I am thinking about this culture of living grief that seems to be surrounding us as medical science is able to hand you a terminal diagnosis these days and then keep you alive for an indefinite amount of time.

I remember in high school when we had to put our beloved Dalmatian, Belle, down. My dad was away on a business trip and we were waiting for him to come home so we could do it. At the time I likened it to living with a criminal on death row because we were just in the odd period of limbo while we waited for her death. Every day she was with us but not. Then one day I got off the bus and I knew, I just knew that she was gone. I told myself “if the car is parked the driveway then Mum took her to the vet today.” And so I started running and sure enough, there was the car in the driveway (Mum should have been at work) and when I went in the house Mum just said sadly, “I just couldn’t’ wait anymore” and I understood, I really did. I wasn’t mad, we had been saying goodbye to Belle daily for weeks. I was just sad – we all were (Dad was relieved that he didn’t have to be a part of it, old softy that he is, he hated that dog for years but would never have been able to watch her go) – but at least we didn’t have to watch her deteriorate anymore.

Sometimes I feel like that criminal on death row.

For the past couple months I have been thinking about starting a podcast where I would talk to other people who are also living with a terminal disease. But then my friend Jocelyn told me about how much her friends who have started podcasts ended up hating them because of all the work and now I’m not sure that is the direction I want to go in. I still want to interview people who are facing death – and not just women with Stage IV breast cancer either – but writing has always been my medium of choice and that is probably the direction I will take. I miss interviewing people and writing articles. I miss writing and having purpose but I’m trying to slow down and figure out a good balance. To not worry when I don’t finish a book. To not beat myself up when I am not feeling well enough to go to yoga. To sit down and focus on one task at a time.

Our trip to Ireland is coming up and so there is a lot of little things to get ready for that as well. I’m also attempting to knit a sweater for the first time and trying to get it done to take with me. (And nowhere does my perfectionist nature shine through than when I am knitting because I have cast-on this sweater eleventy billion times and switched yarn so I can get it just right.) Plus I was hoping to finish a story to submit to a contest before we leave.

Slow fashion.

Slow reading.

Slow writing.

Long life?

 

Let’s hope so.